I actually wrote this in 1989. The only thing I added now that I am posting this in 2010 is the phrase "the older I get, the more I learn not to". It is encouraging to me as I read this I realize that those tendancies you are about to read about that I did so often are not much of an issue anymore. It must be true that with gray hair comes wisdom!
I must learn to love myself (not have a poor self image) before my relationships with other people reach their full potential. Of course I do not love the creation more than the creator (Rom. 1:25) Maybe I should say, I love Christ within me. There is only one God, but there are many Christians. Each one has a different personality through which Christ is revealed. The Bible says in Mark 12:33 to “love your neighbor as yourself.” How can we love our neighbor if we do not love ourselves?
This is different from pride. Pride means you think you are better than others. The truth is that deep down people with pride really do not love themselves.
I remember after I first got married; I wanted to change my whole personality. My self concept was suffering. You see, some might say that I’m very out-going. However, that is not always good! Even though my foot tastes awful, it seems I have chewed it down to the bone—the old “foot-in-the-mouth” syndrome! The older I get, the more I learn not to, but especially in times past I have told people what I think of something as if they asked for my opinion! I knew immediately that I should not have opened my mouth. I would come home, and Bill could tell right off; “What did you say this time?” Then there were those times that Bill was with me, and he knew I would say something I shouldn't’ so he gently nudged my knee with his hand to remind me to keep quiet. It saved me from a lot of turmoil. That started making me want to be like Bill instead of me. I was down on myself for weeks. Finally, Bill sat me down and talked to me. He said he married me for who I was, not so he could change me to be like him. He said that I had opened him up more than anyone else had ever done; never before had he been able to express his inner-most feelings. It was then that I realized the awesome miracle of our marriage. God knew what each of us needed, and He put us together to compliment each other and to be truly one in Christ! Oh yes, Bill still has to nudge my knee sometimes, and I have to ask him quite a bit what he is thinking, but we have a much more exciting marriage than if we were so much alike.
God made each of us uniquely perfect with our own personalities. Since we are born in sin (Rom 5:14, 17, and 3:23), we all have flaws in our personalities. The more time we spend with our Creator and other children of God, the more the flaws decrease. God takes out the tendency to gossip in the extravert and the evil thoughts that are not spoken in the introvert. It just takes spending time with Him in intimate communion and a sincere, repentant heart.
Time spent with other Christians is also very important. We compliment each other. Just as a man and wife are better together than apart—because one’s strengths are the other’s weaknesses and visa versa—so the church needs to bind together as one. Imagine how we would so encourage one another and bring out each other’s strengths if we all would gather together after following the first step of individual time with God. (Matt. 22:37-38) The best of every Christian's personalities combined would be so much more like Christ than just one person. Isn’t that our goal—to be like Christ? Let’s help each other—build each other up—never cut the other down. (Gal 6:2) Then the church will be “a glorious church without spot or wrinkle” at the time of Christ’s return. (Ep. 5:27) Glory be to God, the Creator of all!